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Administrators (Generalist) and technocrats (Engineers) in government of India

Generalist Administrators and technocrat Engineers in government of India

“The Engineers’ (specialists) work is out in open, where all men can see it. If he makes a mistake, he cannot, like a doctor bury it; he cannot like a lawyer, blame it on judge or jury. He cannot, like a politician, claim his constituents demanded it.

Nor can he, like a public official, change the name of it and hope people will forget; unlike clergyman, he cannot blame it on devil.

  • If his works do not work, he is utterly damned.
  • If they do work, the world mostly forgets the name of the engineer.
  • The credit goes to some fellow, who used other peoples’ money to pay for it.”

                                      Herbert Hoover

Introduction

Thousands of personnel in government services – For the performance of its manifold activities, government employs thousands of employees – generalist administrators, engineers, technical personnel and professionals – into its administrative set-up (i.e. civil services or bureaucracy) at various levels from almost all vocations, occupations and professions. In the government, all of them are always connected with the exercise of authority. Bureaucracy is always connected with the exercise of authority as its officials belong to the class of power elites. They have to deal with common men – human beings with many complexes, psychological and sociological. Its dealings extend to society as a whole.

Both, generalist administrators and engineers (technocrats) play a crucial role – Both, generalist administrators and engineers (technocrats) play a crucial role in the governance and all-round development of the nation. Together they play the role of knowledge managers in the government. Both being the pillars governance and developmental activities, are responsible to work for the public good. The basic qualities, needed in its officials for achieving its goals are – efficiency, predictability, impersonal nature and speedy working.

Main functions of administrators and technocratsTheir main functions are to formulate/frame and implement the plans and policies in different areas, taking care of the interest of the nation as a whole. For policy making, planning, programs and monitoring and re-evaluating the projects, both dig the information, collect relevant data, give the collected material a shape and present in the form of government’s projects, plans and policies.

Both recruited through an open competitive examination and professionally trainedOfficials for higher level are recruited through an open competitive examination and professionally trained in various disciplines – functional, technical and specialist as well as managerial and generalist such as intelligence services to maintain law and order, diplomatic service for external affairs, technical services for Public Works Department or Electricity Departments, Railways and Customs etc.

Issues

Till today, generalist administrators, belonging to IAS and IPS, receive the greatest possible attention of the Ministers and elective representatives of the people. The government in India has yet to learn to give due regards and free space to work in its administrative system.

Tense relationship between bureaucrats and technocrats – Engineers, in government services are by and large, a demoralized lot finding it difficult to uphold the values of integrity and devotion. They are unable to feel the professional pride. The reasons are –

  • Personnel policies of the government not in tune – The systems/personnel policies of the government are not in tune with the requirements of developmental Administration.
  • The reason of dissatisfaction amongst engineers is that in the government sector, an administrator, especially belonging to IAS, moves up the ladder much faster than a specialist (engineer) as a result of assured career prospects. In the process the posts which are the legitimately belong to specialists and other professional are usurped by IAS personnel.
  • Administrators always remain at the controlling/giving-end. Personnel belonging to specialist services in the government engaged in development functions always remain at asking end. They look up at generalist administrators for passing their plans and get their permission for getting the jobs done.
  • Government’s failure to accord due place to the engineers, professionals and specialists in its administrative set-up has caused a conflict of professional jurisdiction, counter-motivation and a sense of frustration amongst the engineers, specialists and professionals. Such a discarded value system has led to inter-service tensions and rivalries, indifferent attitude of officials to work and perform their duties sincerely.

Liberalization and globalization has given ample of opportunities to hard-working first rate engineers and specialists to join private sector or go abroad. There they get job-satisfaction and fatter salaries. Today technical departments in government are finding it difficult employ and retain talented, upright and sincere persons as they do not want to join the government.

Structure of administrative machinery

The structure of the whole administrative machinery plays an important role in performance of tasks. It is vertically and horizontally divided in order to meet the differing requirements and emerging tasks – concerning governance or developments, so that government can function in harmony and cooperation of all officials. Government divides different posts systematically into several classes in accordance with the nature of functions to be performed, responsibilities to be shouldered and other conditions.

Nature of government functions – The manifold activities of a government broadly fall into the following groups –

  • Control functions,
  • Service functions, and
  • Development functions

Control functions – Control functions deals with maintenance of law and order. It is performed at higher/decision-making level by officials belonging to IAS, IFS; intelligence services -IPS, IB, CBI etc. and revenue services looking after financial activities of the government.

Service functionsTo provide services to public at large, there are some non-technical professional as well as technical services like various Railways, Post and Telegraph etc which provide services to the public at large. And

Development functions – The responsibility of building up permanent infra-structure for the sustainable development of the nation falls on the shoulders of technocrats belonging to superior technical services.

Other yardsticks of position classification – Usually positions, supervision and authority to be exercised downward, other responsibilities, simple or complicated type of work, qualifications required for the post etc., are the factors, which operate in the determination of classification.

The factors, which are usually taken into account for assessing the status, salary-structure, importance and career prospects of various services in government are:-

  • Degree of skill,
  • Strain of work
  • Experience involved
  • Training acquired,
  • Responsibility      undertaken
  • Mental and physical      requirements
  • Disagreeableness of      task
  • Hazard attendant of      the work and fatigue involved

An old battle – The battle between administrators and technocrats for access to the administrative posts at the policy-making and equality in salary dates back to 1957 and now the controversy between them has emerged as the knottiest internal problem facing the government. Partly this problem has been inherited from the colonial past, and partly, it is political leaders’ own making.

Why more importance to Generalist Administrators?

Deep in their hearts, National leaders are very well aware of the importance of various technical and professional services in the emerging development context. They are convinced also that the demands of engineers and other specialists are just and genuine.

  • Intelligence: It is well known that technocrats have brighter and more talented than many IAS officers. Mrs. Indira Gandhi accepted that brightest students choose engineering and medicine. She said, “it is odd that the greatest doctors and engineers in the country, who would be rated as the leaders of the profession and who save lives or add permanent assets to the nation can rarely hope to receive the pay or status of Secretaries of Ministers”. The truth gets confirmed seeing that specialists are securing higher ranks even in the competitive examination for non-technical civil services.
  • Academic qualifications before Recruitment: As far as basic minimum academic qualifications at the recruitment stage is concerned, engineers and doctors have an edge over the generalists, because they have to go through a far more rigorous curriculum in professional institutes before competing for Class I Central Services. The Academic requirements for the government’s most prestigious jobs in the civil service (IAS) and the Foreign Service are lower (only a graduate degree) than the standards set down by other services such as Indian Economic and Statistical Service, which requires a Masters Degree, but still receives lesser importance, so far as the pay scales and career prospects are concerned.
  • Differential in pay structure: One of the arguments propagated for maintaining differential in pay structure is that the quality of a service could be measured in terms of number of written papers set in the recruitment examination for different services. Higher the number of papers, higher the pay scales. This argument is not valid.
  • Higher Responsibility: If shouldering higher responsibility is the major criteria for determining the pay structure, differentials in emoluments, then the Prime Minister, the Cabinet ministers and Parliamentarians should have been highest paid persons in the country as they formulate the national policies and carry the nation with them.
  • No accurate methodology to evaluate responsibilities – No methodology exists to evaluate accurately the responsibilities borne by various services. The Third Pay Commission is on record and has admitted as under “…it is difficult to make inter-service comparison of duties and responsibilities attaching to different posts and results may not be free from controversy” (Third Pay Commission’s Report Vol. I P.113, 1973) and “… we have not found an arithmetical equation between the engineering and Indian Administrative Service practicable….” (Ibid P.137)
  • Hazards of the job: While an IAS officer works from his air-conditioned room in summers and still receives special pay, the specialists have to attend site duties in a remote, difficult and deserted place at accelerated pace at accelerated pace under hot sun to achieve the target before monsoon. The technocrats have to work hard continuously for carrying out the developmental and promotional functions of the government.
  • Permanent assets to the nation – Technocrats give permanent assets to the nation and thus play a crucial role in the modernization process of the country. Do not society and the government acknowledge their valuable contributions? If not more, then at-least pay them equally for their hard work and valuable services?
  • Ignoring the claims of technocrats – The government of India, ever since Independence, has been ignoring the claims of technocrats. It says that they have been employed for doing those jobs, why should they be given special pay or extra facilities. But when it comes to an IAS officer, when he/she is deputed to secretariat, he is offered a special pay for doing that job. In fact now he gets special pay for even holding district charge, for which he is basically recruited.
  • Increased work-load: The Government recommends higher emoluments for personnel of the IAS on the grounds of increased work-load. According to it, Collector’s job has acquired new dimensions with the growth of democratic institutions and now Collectors have to spend a considerable time in consulting and guiding non-official bodies for enlisting public cooperation and participation in schemes sponsored by the Government. Therefore, IAS deserves an edge over other Services. A closer look at the district posting itself, however, reveals the following facts:
    • It is true that the work load of a Collector is multifarious, but at the same time, it is also a fact that the governments in all the states have gone in a big way to reduce the geographical and functional jurisdiction of collectors. Not only the size of districts have been reduced, but posts like District Planning Officers, District Development Officers and Revenue Officers have been created to relieve the Collector of those important functional duties. Consequently adequate neutralization to the increase in workload has been provided through limiting the geographical and functional jurisdiction.
    • Span of field duties – According to Pr. Das Gupta and Pr. Ray, the argument that field duties of IAS are becoming increasingly, complex and arduous – is not valid on the ground that field duties are not the exclusive feature of the IAS alone. As a matter of fact, the field duties are an integral part of other Central Services as well. While the IAS and IPS have the advantage of power and authority to deal with problems of field management, other services have to manage their work under stress and strain of democratic process like the union activities or social, economic and political pressures etc. It can not be argued that the field duties of an Engineer or technocrats are less arduous and hazardous than that of his counterpart in Indian Administrative Service.
    • Does this short stay justify higher pay scales for the entire service? The span of field duties by technocrats is far longer. In 1979, a review was undertaken by DAPR and it was found that direct recruits IAS officer in some states were not getting adequate sub-divisional experience and district experience. “Of the officers with four to five years of service 45% of the Direct Recruits according to our 1979 review and 58 % of the direct recruits in the 1981 review had not been allowed to work as sub-divisional officers for two full years. They were short of two years. Similarly in eight state cadres, 70% or more of the officers have not done sub-divisional charge for two years” (77th Report of Estimates Committee presented to7th Lok Sabha on 17.4.1984, P. 76-77)
    • An officer of the       IAS stays in the post of a Collector for not more than three to four       years in his entire service span of over 35 years. Does this short stay       justify higher pay scales for the entire service? The span of field       duties by officers of Class I Central Services is far longer.

Critical review

Colonial heritageFor British rulers services engaged in control functions were more important than any other. They neither had much interest in public welfare schemes nor did they interfere unnecessarily in the interests of privileged sections of the society. India has inherited many things from their past. The colonial heritage – a carry-over of the colonial bureaucratic traditions – can be seen in elitism, authoritarianism, aloofness, red-tapism and paternalistic tendencies of its administrators.

Importance of control functionaries for Imperial rule – Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister said in the House of Commons in his historic `steel-frame speech’’ on August 2, 1922, that the British Civil Servants were the very basis of the Empire in India and he could not imagine of any period when `they can dispense with the guidance and assistance of a small nucleus of the British Civil Servants … There is one institution we will not cripple, there is one institution we will not deprive of its functions or of its privileges; and that is hat institution, which built up the British Raj – the British Civil Service in India”1.

“Steel-frame of the whole structure’’ – ICS was the `steel-frame of the whole structure’’ of governance of Imperial rule in India and was exclusively trained to suit to the special needs of the British Imperial Power. Sir Edmund Blunt had said, “Superior Indian Civil Servants were the practical owners of India, irresponsible and amenable to no authority, but that of their fellow members.” Dr. Fisher also confirmed “it is the government”.

Popularity of British ICS allover the world – ICS was popular not only in India, but allover the world, “It always puzzled many bigwigs like Stalin, von Ribbentrop and many other foreign observers, namely how barely a thousand of British ICS (Indian Civil Service) personnel managed to rule both British India and the princely states with a combined population of well over 300 million during the first part of the twentieth century. Very few statesmen, from Bismarck to Theodore Roosevelt, doubted the quality of British rule.

Ranking of various services -Main interest of the imperial Government was in maintenance of law and order situation and collection of revenue. British rulers neither took much interest in public welfare schemes nor did they interfere unnecessarily in the interests of privileged sections of the society. For them, controlling wing was more important rather than any of the organizations engaged in service/development functions. Therefore as suggested by Macauley and Ishington Commissions –

  • Superior status to ICS & IP – The superior status accorded to IAS and IP was perfectly in accordance with the aims of foreign rulers. These services were predominantly meant for ‘White-people’ belonging to the elite and rich families of Britain. Their oligarchic socio-economic background had its shadow on them and forced them to form a separate class – a close aristocracy of talent, race and even of colour. They were in-charge of control functions i.e. maintenance of law and order, revenue collection – crucial to perpetuate British rule in India as far as possible.
  • In the middle – In the middle were the Central (professional) services, especially engaged in revenue work, Education, Finance, Telegraph and Communications, Railways and Survey of India etc. occupied a place next to the paramount functions of law and order and revenue collection. These services were meant for implementing the policies of the Union in areas which were directly under Government of India. There was a mixture of European and native officers. Appointment did not require any professional qualification or experience.
  • Least attention to technical services – Technical services were given the least importance.  Technical services required knowledge and experience of a defined field, professional degree/ diploma and/or experience for entering into these services. By its nature of work, Scientific and technical services could not pose any serious danger to the Empire.

Nine All India services – Though British government in India was not much interested in nation-building activities or building up the infra-structure for the benefit of common-men, still on the eve of the Government of India Act 1919, there existed nine All India Services.

Some of the non-ICS services of generalist nature were as popular as ICS. ICS (Judicial) was popular amongst Indian ICS officers as there was not much pressure of Imperial Government on their working. Indian Custom Service was also very popular as its officials were usually posted in big towns.

Abolition of other All India services except for ICS & IP – As the movement for Indianization gained momentum, most of the technical services and services engaged in service functions were either abolished or provincialized.

Indian public opinion allergic to All India Services – Indian public opinion and the attitude of national leaders became allergic to All India Services. It was not on the basis of their actual performance, but because they were controlled by the Secretary of State and were a living symbol of foreign rule.

National interest allowed to go by default – As BB Misra says “It was the ICS and IP that remained unaffected and continued to act as unifying force. Most of the other services were abolished. Considerations of national unity, the positive need of India’s all-round development and the attainment of a minimum uniform standard in administration were allowed to go by default.”

After the independence

Independent India committed to ‘Welfare State’ and ‘Development administration’ – After the independence in 1947, India is committed to the principles of ‘Welfare State’ and ‘Development administration’ The change from one of attending to routine regulatory function to that of promoting a rapid socio-economic based on the principles of socialist and egalitarian society as ultimate national goals demands drastic changes in its administrative set-up.

Sweeping changes in knowledge based modern society In recent past, emergence of a knowledge based society has brought drastic changes, especially after Information technology revolution of 1970s has brought in many changes. The liberalization of the economy in early 1990’s and globalization of the market forces have triggered off sweeping changes too. It is redefining the work-culture of the day.

Importance and responsibility of technocrats increased – The role of engineers/technocrats becomes crucial as they are directly involved in building up the infra-structure for carrying out the developmental and promotional functions of the government. They derive their strength from their increasingly crucial role in the modernization process of the country. Their importance has increased tremendously from their ever-increasing number in service sector of the government; and the work they are supposed to perform for improving the quality of service to the masses.

Needs of Knowledge based modern society – More than just replacing laborious and slow processes with smooth and speedier ones, the organizations, whether big or small, needs to redefine jobs, responsibilities, objectives and broad organizational cultures. The objective is to enable individuals to empower their own environment, make their own decisions and focus on quality and responsiveness to peoples needs within the parameters of organizational policy.

Changed work-culture – The advances in computers, telecommunications or networking technologies and rapid commercialization of the world- wide computer web of network have changed the work-culture of the day. The changes brought in by Information technology Revolution ensures: –

  • Better management controls and decision-making.
  • Improved customer service and speedier response to inquiries.
  • Improved techniques of decision, accuracy of information.
  • On line information.
  • It has made it very easy to get and share needed information, any time and anywhere, for controlling the environment.
    • Today a single computer works in different modes of environment and organization and broadens a person’s acquaintance with EMS, IMS, DSS and DPS (Electronic Message System, Information management system, and decision support system Documentation Preparation system.)
    • Having a centralized system with different departments or industries, connected by a network, supporting management functions i.e. decision making, organizing, planning controlling and initiating would make the future office a paperless office, ensuring direct line, from one computer system to the computers of all concerned.

No more reliance on ‘Jack of all, but master of none’ theory – Now when knowledge-based-society has already taken over the charge, the Jacksonian theory, that ‘Jack of all, but master of none’ does the job better at higher decision-making levels, does not work effectively. It is an age of specialization. There are very few jobs, which can be done efficiently without some measure of specialization through education, knowledge or continuous experience in a specific discipline. All personnel working in organizations and institutions involved in development process need not only the quality of minds, but also the subject-matter contents in their minds.

Bureaucrats in the role of knowledge managers – In the increasingly knowledge-based modern society, bureaucrats play the role of knowledge managers. They are expected to find out knowledge based solutions for different challenges and problems of modern world. For performing their roles effectively, they are required to develop through Management” courses and Training” programs

  • Observation skills, alertness and awareness of their surroundings;
  • Intelligence or basic applicative skill to create solutions;
  • Capacity to collect relevant data;
  • Ability to understand pros and cons of a problem and suggest alternatives;
  • Mental alertness to deliver results within time and cost parameters.

Rapid advances in Information Technology – The advances in computers, telecommunications or networking technologies and commercialization of the world- wide computer web of network have changed the work-culture of the day. The changes brought in by Information technology Revolution ensures: –

  • Better management controls and decision-making.
  • Improved customer service and speedier response to inquiries.
  • Improved techniques of decision, accuracy of information.
  • On line information.
  • It has made it very easy to get and share needed information, any time and anywhere, for controlling the environment.
  • Today a single computer works in different modes of environment and organization and broadens a person’s acquaintance with EMS, IMS, DSS and DPS (Electronic Message System, Information management system, and decision support system Documentation Preparation system.)
  • Having a centralized system with different departments or industries, connected by a network, supporting management functions i.e. decision making, organizing, planning controlling and initiating would make the future office a paperless office, ensuring direct line, from one computer system to the computers of all concerned.

Conclusion

Due regards to technocrats – Immediately after the Independence, in India, where science and technology had yet to make their full impact, technical/specialist services needed to be given due place in the government, as they are directly involved in building up the infra-structure and for carrying out the developmental and promotional functions of the government. Technocrats derive their strength from their increasingly crucial role in the modernization process of the country, their ever-increasing number in service sector of the government and for improving the quality of service to the masses. However, their status has remained almost the same even in twenty first century. Indian Administrative Service is still the elitist service.

The great economic Depression – The great economic depression of 2008 has shaken the global world. Almost all the nations have suffered great losses due to recession and Euro-economic crisis. It has adversely affected the economy of the whole world. To recover from damages done in the recent past, both generalists and technical government services require the personnel of integrity, intelligence, ability and relevant knowledge in their specific areas.

A balanced and harmonious relationship between bureaucrats and technocrats – Good and effective governance and meaningful results of desired goals requires a balanced and harmonious relationship between generalist administrators and technocrats/engineers. Weakening of any part of this pillar could only spell disaster. Therefore, government has to make feasible administrative, organizational and working arrangements rationally and systematically.

National leaders in India are very well aware of the importance of various technical and professional services in the emerging development context. Deep in their hearts, they are convinced also that the demands of engineers and other specialists are just and genuine. But political expediency and motivations stops from taking any concrete step.

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July 14, 2013 - Posted by | Bureaucracy/Civil Services | , , , ,

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